Wrestlers brace for pre-selection trials ahead of Paris Olympics

Wrestlers brace for pre-selection trials ahead of Paris Olympics

Paris Olympics wrestling quotas hang in balance as athletes face pre-selection trials

Indian wrestlers eyeing spots for the Paris Olympics will now face an additional hurdle, as an ad-hoc committee introduces a revamped selection policy. Unlike the previous practice of providing direct entry to quota winners, the new policy demands a 'wrestle off' between the quota winner and a challenger.

New selection policy unveiled

The ad-hoc committee, governing the sport in the absence of a recognized body, declared the alteration, emphasizing fairness and transparency. Quota winners, like Antim Panghal in the 53kg category, now need to overcome a challenger in a 'wrestle off.' The quota winner secures a spot with a single win, while the challenger must win twice consecutively.

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Vinesh Phogat's opportunity

The new policy opens a pathway for Vinesh Phogat, recovering from knee surgery, to contend for her spot against Antim. To qualify for the 'wrestle off,' she must first finish in the top four at the trials in February and then compete in a Nordic format on May 31 to decide the challenger.

Administrative challenges

The ad-hoc committee has been managing wrestling administration due to the suspension of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). The WFI's election process, currently on hold in courts, has led to a delay in crucial decisions. Despite uncertainties, the committee aims to ensure Olympic preparation remains unaffected.

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The committee has also altered the format for the selection trials, introducing a two-day event where the first day will feature knock-out competitions to determine the two finalists. The winner of the subsequent best-of-three bout final will qualify for the Olympic qualifiers, while the losing finalist will compete at the Asian Championships. Tokyo Olympics medallists, including Ravi Dahiya and Bajrang Punia, must participate in the February trials, ensuring a level playing field.

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